Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Call for Restoring Dzerzhyinsky Statue in Lubyanka Square Highlights Divisions in Russian Society

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 20 – As the August 1991 coup collapsed and the Soviet Union was put on an accelerated path to disintegration, Muscovites with the blessing of their reformist mayor Gavriil Popov on the night of August 21-22 tore down the statue of Cheka founder Feliks Dzerzhinsky in front of the Lubyanka headquarters of the KGB.

            For many people around the world, that action symbolized the commitment of the Russian people to reject for all time the rule of the hated security services and to move toward democracy and freedom. But now with a KGB officer in power in the Kremlin, the Officers of Russia is calling for the statue to be put back where it was.

            The Officers of Russia, an organization which unites more than 200,000 veterans of the various uniformed services, has called on the Procurator General to rule the demolition of the statue illegal because it says Popov had no right to issue the order. Only the council of ministers of the USSR or the RSFSR could do that (ria.ru/20201218/pamyatnik-1589837388.html).

            Émigré opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky said that it was “amusing” that the Officers of Russia had been the group to push this idea given that Dzerzhinsky had set up the Cheka to defend the Bolshevik revolution by repressing officers of the old regime (twitter.com/mich261213/status/1340232011693363201).

            But two informal polls suggest the possibility of restoring the statue while controversial has significant support. Fifty-two percent of the participants in one opposed putting the statue back, while 48 percent are opposed (t.me/minaevlife/6464). A second by pro-Kremlin TV personality Vladimir Solovyev found 78 percent in favor with only 22 percent against (t.me/SolovievLive/42559).

            This is not the first time groups in Russian society have pushed for putting Dzerzhinsky’s statue back. Five years ago, some even proposed holding a referendum on the possibility (mk.ru/moscow/2015/06/24/neizvestnye-fakty-o-pamyatnike-dzerzhinskomu.html and



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